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Northrop Grumman Integrates All Phased Array Antennas On First Advanced EHF Flight Payload

File image of an EHF military communications satellite.
by Staff Writers
Redondo Beach CA (SPX) Jan 24, 2007
The uplink and downlink phased array antennas developed by Northrop Grumman for the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) military satellite communications payload have been successfully integrated onto the first flight structure, and their performance has been verified alongside other essential payload components. Delivery of the payload to Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the Advanced EHF program, remains on track for late January 2007. Using phased array antennas, advanced microelectronics, extremely high data rate (XDR) waveforms and efficient protocols, Advanced EHF will deliver a significant increase in capacity and connectivity over the legacy Milstar system. Advanced EHF will deliver 10 times greater total capacity and six times higher channel data rates than Milstar communications satellites.

"The performance verification of our phased array antennas on the flight structure is a key achievement in the integration and test of the first Advanced EHF flight payload," said Gabe Watson, vice president of the Advanced EHF payload program for Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "Successful development and production of the AEHF phased array antennas are essential to our ability to deliver higher capacity, highly secure communications to the U.S. military."

The phased array antennas Northrop Grumman has developed for Advanced EHF are directly applicable to the next-generation Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT), which will ultimately replace the Milstar and Advanced EHF programs. The company is teamed with Lockheed Martin in the competition to build TSAT, and this accomplishment also represents a reduction in risk and cost to the TSAT program, Watson noted.

More than 40 separate tests were run on the Advanced EHF payload's three phased array antennas, consisting of one uplink antenna and two downlink antennas, as they were integrated successfully into the payload. These were part of the 231 tests of the Advanced EHF Flight 1 payload test suite.

The antennas also successfully completed an additional series of unique tests which verify the operation of each individual antenna element. The phased array antennas will be the first of their kind to operate at 20 GHz and 40 GHz in space.

Test results verified that the performance of all three antennas exceed gain and coverage requirements and that they successfully interfaced with all applicable components in the payload, including critical digital processing and the RF subsystems.

The Advanced EHF communications system will provide global, highly secure, protected, survivable communications for warfighters serving under the U.S. Department of Defense. The Lockheed Martin-led team is currently under contract to provide three Advanced EHF satellites and the mission control system to its customer, the Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing, located at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

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